I felt and still feel that we owe these pioneers so much – going vegan was extremely easy for me. I will always remember Arthur Ling the founder of Plamil Foods Ltd calling me and saying “vegans nowadays don’t know they are born…. You can have a soya latte in a coffee shop now. We had to go around to health food stores asking them to sell our soya milk – and they replied “Why what’s wrong with cows milk!!””
Now remember this conversation was about 17 years ago – and Arthur was talking about 60 years ago!
Rose Elliot MBE has written over SEVENTY veggie and vegan cook books. She has never eaten meat and is the Patron for many charities including the incredible Vegetarian for Life, which supports older vegans and veggies.
Rose said: “I was still at school in the 60’s, the only vegetarian in my class, and possibly in the whole school, apart from my younger sister. I was used to being regarded as an oddity and asked what on earth my family ate for Christmas dinner – the standard question – and the answer was of course nut roast instead of turkey!
“As the 60’s wore on and the Lady Downing started Beauty Without Cruelty alerting many people to the suffering of animals in the cosmetic and fashion industries, and well-known models became vegetarian too, the culture began to spread – and I had my very first book vegetarian cookbook published, Simply Delicious, which to my astonishment became an overnight bestseller – and set me on my future career path.
“Cranks the vegetarian and vegan café opened in the 60s, and I knew and became friendly with the founders, Kay and David Canter, and we shared our mutual joy and excitement at the way vegetarianism was taking off, and they used some of my recipes in their restaurants and sold Simply Delicious, and my next book, Not Just a Load of Old Lentils, in their restaurants. It was an exciting time for me, with the ever-increasing interest in vegetarian food and cooking.
“The desire to show the world that it was possible to make healthy, easy, truly delicious food without killing and eating animals inspired me to write all my books. It was to save the animals I did it. I was, and still am, a passionate animal lover, and if you love animals you don’t torture, kill, or eat them. During the past decade or so I have taken it all a step further and given up animal products altogether.
“I’m also so fond of inventing new recipes. I get an idea and just have to try it out, I test it, then once it’s perfected it goes into a book and I’m excited by another idea!
“I have to say I am delighted that veganism is so on trend now. To me that has been and is a natural evolution but I never feel any sense competition or superiority with those who are vegetarian (including my husband, and many friends). I just feel we are all on the same path towards greater compassion, love, and brotherhood with the animals. It’s a wonderful world.”
Ray O’Leary is a Trustee of Vegetarian for Life and 2 years ago decided to get a vegan tattoo, at the age of 69. He is a very proud vegan of over 20 years, who worked for many years as Information Support Officer at the Vegetarian Society, offering help and advice on a range of vegetarian lifestyle issues. He has a history of campaigning, from Green party politics to animal rights issues. Although now semi-retired, Ray continues to offer help and support in the local community, volunteering at various events, including vegetarian/vegan food fayres, animal shelters and community centres. He has two incredible daughters Niki and Jane who are both vegan too.
Rays tells me, “I got the tattoo because I want my choice to remain vegan to be respected right to the end of my life.”
Ray has received positive feedback about his tattoo and it has started many conversations. The tattoo is also a way he can assert his veganism and define his identity. It is a way of making sure his wishes, beliefs and commitment to veganism continue to be fulfilled.
When getting the tattoo, Ray even made a short video that can be found on Vegetarian for Life’s You Tube channel:
Amanda Woodvine the CEO of the charity adds,
“There are over 300,000 older vegans and vegetarians in the UK and they are as passionate about their lifestyle now as they always have been. Among our supporters are John Machin – a 63-year-old vegan body builder, and Paul Youd, an 82-year-old vegan who aims to complete over a million press-ups, spread out over 10 years!”
“Roy Burdin, who sadly passed away last year, partnered with us to advocate for vegan food options at assisted living facilities and retirement homes – which is a cornerstone of the charity’s work. He was 98 at the time and like many of the early pioneers of the vegan movement, his memory and dedication still live on.”